With striking Columbus teachers reaching a tentative agreement today, I am sensing a lot of deja vu of what happened in West Virginia 4 years ago when teachers won a bold strike, inspiring teachers nationwide to go on strike.
Teachers throughout the state are upset over devastating property tax cuts, creating prime conditions for more strikes.
Now, the strikes in Ohio are spreading to Lordstown and the nearby serving school district of Niles, Ohio. Teachers there have voted to go on strike next Thursday.
The Niles community was devastated by the closing of the Lordstown GM plant in 2019 (a 5-10 minute drive from the plant). Teachers in Niles now make less than $7,000 – $8,000 less than teachers in neighboring districts while being forced to do more. Teachers determined to improve conditions, teachers are pledging to go on strike next Thursday.
“They have seen a 9% raise in the last 10 years,” Melanie Hameed, president of the North Eastern Ohio Education Association, told WVIZ. “And the last contract that they had, they had straight zeroes so you know, who could live on that?”
The school district recently signaled that it intended to play hardball by voting to cut off all health insurance to all teachers who go on strike next week.
While the teachers are facing a school boarding playing hardball, autoworkers across town are also facing union busting as GM seeks to reopen the shuttered Lordstown GM Plant partially.
Those fears seem to have come to fruition.
A new joint venture between GM and LG Energy called Utlium is refusing to agree to union neutrality provisions and a card check union recognition agreement.
“This process has been agreed to by many employers for a smooth and peaceful recognition of the UAW,” UAW Vice President Terry Dittes wrote in a letter to union leaders earlier this month. “Ultium flat out rejected those simple basic features of a card check recognition we proposed.”
A lot is going on in Lordstown, and Payday wants to be to cover it. A victory in a place like Lordstown and Niles could inspire more unions throughout the region.
We need to pay for gas, hotels, food, tolls, and other travel expenses to cover these strikes.
Payday has shown a consistent ability to impact the conversation in the US. Last year, The Washington Post cited our work tracking strikes in a front-page cover story. The New York Times described us as a publication with “new energy.” PBS American Portrait profiled our work tracking the strike wave, and Esquire described our work as “invaluable.”
Thanks for all the support – you make labor journalism possible.
Love & Solidarity,